1 Timothy 5 Bible Commentary

B. W. Johnson’s Bible Commentary

(Read all of 1 Timothy 5)
The Widows of the Church.

SUMMARY.--Rules for Reproving. Honoring Widows. How They Should be Supported. Who are to be Taken into the Number of Widows. The Younger Widows. The Presbyters. A Charge Concerning Timothy's Death.

      1, 2. Rebuke not an elder. An aged man. Treat him with deference due to age. It is evident from the four classes named together, the young men, aged women, and the young women, that the reference in the word "elder" is not to office, but to age.

      3, 4. Honor widows that are widows indeed. In the church at Jerusalem the widows were honored with support (Acts 6:1). The teaching of Paul here seems to place widows who were above sixty years old, and without children or grandchildren to support them, in a class of church widows devoted to the work of the church, and supported out of its funds. Such were "widows indeed." 4. But if any widow hath children or nephews. These must support them, and thus "show piety at home." Nephews is better rendered "grandchildren."

      5-8. She that is a widow indeed. Has neither husband nor children, and is left desolate. Having no earthly trust, she trusteth in God, and shows this by her devout life. 6. She that liveth in pleasure. The widow that plays the wanton is dead spiritually. 7. These things give in charge. Insist upon these things. 8. If any provide not for his own. The support of his relatives and servants is referred to. Children and grandchildren must support their aged parents. Any one who does not provide for his own family, whether it be wife and children, or aged parents, has practically denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever, for even unbelievers do these things.

      9, 10. Let not a widow be taken. Into the order of widows supported by the church and engaged in its work. Under threescore. None but the aged. Having been the wife of one man. Not having had more than one husband living at the same time, as was very common in those days of easy divorce. 10. Well reported of. Good character was a requisite. Good works. The good works are named. Brought up children. Either her own, or orphans or neglected children. Lodged strangers. The duty of hospitality is often urged. Often, in that age, saints were made homeless by persecution. Washed the saints' feet. A duty of hospitality, not a church ordinance. Relieved the afflicted. A ministering angel.

      11-16. The younger widows refuse. Do not take them into this number for the reason that they in part will wish to marry again. 12. Having damnation. Not because they marry, but because after entering a class consecrated entirely to church work, they forsake its duties in order to marry. 13. Withal, they learn to be idle. They have not that gravity which is required for this work of visitation and ministration laid upon the "widows indeed," but wander from house to house to gossip. 14. I will, therefore, that the younger women marry. None are to enter upon this consecrated life but the aged; there are to be no young nuns. The apostle distinctly forbids the conventual system which now exists in the Romish church. 16. If any . . . that believeth have widows. If any have widows among their relatives, let them support these, instead of the church, in order that the church may support the "widows indeed."

      17-20. Let the elders that rule well. The officials called "bishops" in 3:2, are here called elders. See note on the passage referred to. Counted worthy of double honor. Held in especial esteem, and not only treated with respect, but maintained. Especially they who labor in the word and doctrine. The class we call preachers, or pastors. That support is referred to is shown by verse 18. 18. The Scripture saith. Deut. 25:4. See note on 1 Cor. 9:9. And the laborer is worthy of his reward. This is quoted from Luke 10:7. Paul says it is Scripture. Therefore, Luke's Gospel was already written and in Paul's hands when this Epistle was written. He calls this Gospel "Scripture." Peter applies the same term to Paul's writings (2 Peter 3:16). 19. Against an elder receive not. Accusations against bishops might be brought before Timothy. They were not to be considered unless supported by two or three witnesses. The same rule is found in Deut. 19:15. 20. Them that sin. Whether they be elders, or private members, if convicted, rebuke them publicly, for the sake of the lesson to others. Do not hush the matter up privately.

      21-25. I charge thee. The solemnity of this charge shows that Paul had a fear that Timothy's sympathies might lead him aside from a strictly judicial course. The elect angels. Why "elect" we do not certainly know. They may be the good angels as distinct from the bad angels, or those who were chosen to assist in the work of human redemption may be meant. Angels are often mentioned in this connection. Observe these things. Carry out this discipline without respect to persons. 22. Lay hands suddenly on no man. "All the old commentators, and the great majority of modern ones, applies this to ordination." The meaning is that no man must be ordained to office until his fitness is surely known. Neither be partaker, etc. He who appoints an unfit man to office becomes in a certain sense responsible for that man's sins. Keep thyself pure. Free from the sins of other men. 23. Drink no longer water. I suppose the thought of Timothy's trials called to mind a sense of his physical condition. Hence, he gives a medical prescription. The water of that region is not good. The writer well remembers a fearfully sick day that he passed at Ephesus in 1889, due to the water. Paul, hence, advises that instead, he try the light wines, with only the smallest percentage of alcohol. The prescription is not of a beverage, but of a remedy for an invalid. 24. Some men's sins are open beforehand. Discipline has been spoken of. Some men's lives are fully known, and their sins cry out, but others conceal them, and they will only be fully manifest at judgment. 25. Likewise also the good works. The same rule applies to good works. Some get credit for more by far than they deserve, while the good deeds of others will not be fully revealed until judgment. Then all will be estimated aright.